Spanish exchange program takes off after COVID-19

Dylan Bago, Staff Writer

Originally created in 2006, the Spanish exchange program kicked off when Spanish exchange students flew in for the first time since 2019. Ever since COVID-19, the Spanish exchange program was put on a temporary halt, but now, the students are back and ready to experience the USA.

However, there is a noticeable age difference between the Spanish exchange students and the students here at Fremd. This is because in Spain, mandatory education ends at 16, whereas in the United States, high school continues until 18. As a result, the students abroad tend to be from the ages of 12-16. 

Fremd junior and student host Kayla Ollie describes her experience with the exchange program.

¨I was really nervous at first, and worried about the language barrier/ communication gap. It was also hard to get to know the student at first, because they were only 13,” Ollie said. “But after we got to know each other, it was really fun talking about how different our culture was, and how Americans eat really unhealthily, which I thought was pretty funny.”

While the original arrival of the exchange student into an unfamiliar environment may be uncomfortable for both sides, bonds quickly form, leading to long lasting relationships. These relationships transcend boundaries and lead many students, including Ollie to form deep friendships and share special memories with their new friends from across the world.

Spanish exchange coordinator Lissette Parreno details her favorite parts of the program, from both sides – in Spain, and in America.

“I really enjoy seeing the places we learn about and read about, and showing it to my students in Spain. It’s very surreal and a totally different experience to see it live and in person.” Parreno said. “Back at home, although it takes a lot of time to set up the program, it’s very satisfying and rewarding to see the results pay off.”

Parreno also mentions a few hardships associated with the program, and explains the intricacies of them. 

“While I’ve been working for the exchange with the same teacher for a while, it’s very hard to find people willing to host,” Parreno said. “Logistics are the hardest part. Matching up kids based on likes, dislikes, and allergies, and making sure they form a connection is always extremely difficult.”

Difficulties aside, the Spanish Exchange Program bridges Fremd students with others around the world.